Monthly Archives: March 2011

Dear Bupa

Dear Bupa,

Thank you for your masterbrand growth strategy and for showing us – contrary to the received wisdom pedaled by some branding experts – that ubiquity (the enemy of focus) is not necessarily a bad thing and that featuring a very broad “target audience” in brand communication can actually be very desirable.

Thank you for making me think about the differences between:

  • Sales target – the people you want to pick up the phone (or ideally sort themselves out online)
  • Brand target – the people with whom you’re trying to create a deep emotional connection
  • Dramatis personae – the people who feature in your advertising

Thanks for allowing the Sales and Brand targets to see a glimpse of themselves, their family and their friends – in other the words the things that really matter to them – in the Dramatis personae…focus and ubiquity in one. Nice.

And thanks in particular for the way you have turned your fundamental human insight “Treat me as an individual, I’m different, my health needs are different” into the Guess what – I’m not a robot refrain for the backing track. Love it.

On a different note, thanks for reminding me of this ad from John Lewis, which works for fundamentally similar reasons – I can watch it again and again:

Both you Bupa, and you John Lewis, make me think of Martini’s infamous Martini Time of Day – Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere , but with the huge difference that you’ve created communication that says My-time, My-place, My-where. Martini on the other hand just left people thinking –  No-time, No-place, No-where. Here are the Martini ads for old times sake:

And just for good measure (no pun intended), check out the 80s in all their glory:

That mood altering music style shift after 10 seconds is formidable.



PS – I think I’ll save this…… for another time


Dear Honda (again)

Dear Honda (again),

Thank you for one of my most favourite ads of all time – I felt bad about not thanking you for this in my previous post thanking you, so here goes:

Hate Something, Change Something is a beautiful execution of your The Power of Dreams positioning (see here for where I thanked Carling for being a great example of the difference between Positioning, Advertising Idea and Ad Execution).

And thanks for your Hate Something, Change Something song – even 5 years on, that’s a tune I’ll happily whistle all day long.



Dear Honda

Dear Honda,

Thank you for your seminal “Choir” ad from a few years back – it’s mesmerising (and you can’t beat the sight of a dog leaning out of moving car window, whatever the circumstances):

And thanks for being brave enough to allow yourself to be parodied. Not only must be nice to have proved the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but also what a bonus to have been able to lap up the additional impact bestowed upon you by 118 118’s version:

118 118 obviously realised they were on to winner, as they proceeded to do it again, injecting their own humour into their version of your award-winning “Cogs” ad:

While I’m on the topic I should also thank Unilever for their Spray More, Get More Lynx / Axe ad, and for having the foresight to let Specsavers do a similar thing. Both ads make me smile (and not just because of the girls in bikinis):

So thanks Honda and thanks Unilever – and your legal departments – for being wise enough to know that imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery. And thanks 118 118 and Specsavers for being willing to ask the question, thus proving that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.


Dear Carling


Dear Carling,

Thanks for re-showing this ad – it still makes me smile. I love the way you take the language of a Saturday night out and put it into orbit:

And thanks for being a really good example that demonstrates the differences between a Brand Positioning, an Advertising Idea / Platform and an Ad Execution.

Brand Positioning – Belonging

Advertising Idea / Platform – You know who your mates are

Ad Execution – Space

Space is my favourite, but here are 3 more Ad Executions – Explorer; Desert; Wild West – which further demonstrate the principle and also make me chuckle:

Despite these ads, the likelihood of me and my mates necking copious pints of Carling next weekend remains negligible I’m afraid. But that doesn’t matter as I suspect we’re outside your target market and it doesn’t mean that I can’t and don’t admire what you’re doing.

Thanks Carling.


Dear Hook Norton Brewery

Dear Hook Norton Brewery,

Thank you for being my local brewery and for helping me to consolidate my smugness at moving out of London and into the depths of Oxfordshire. Every sip of your Hooky Bitter is like a self-satisfied, hubris inducing, pat on the back for a decision well-made.

CAMRA card-carrying bitter (I’m sorry, Ale) drinkers have always maintained a dismissive superiority over their juvenile, indiscriminate and undiscerning lager drinking  cousins, and now that I’m a part-time member of the gang, I beginning to feel exactly the same way. Horrific, but true.

Nonetheless, I am in no doubt that I would be mercilessly lambasted for confessing that, as with our Antipodean friends, I haven’t yet got my head round the idea of warm beer…I serve my Hooky from the fridge, and there is still plenty of space in my repertoire for a selection of refreshing and crisp continental pilsners of which CAMRA would no doubt thoroughly disapprove.

And thanks Hook Norton Brewery for your delightful Hooky sub-brand – “Pint of Hooky, please” is a stupendous “bar call”, from whichever way you look at it.

Finally, congratulations on your successes at the Brewing Industry International Awards (BIIA) –  the bi-annual brewing “Oscars” – that took place in February. To emerge with 3 medals from a field of eight hundred beers, from 30 countries, is truly commendable.

Cheers, Hooky.


Dear Marlow

Dear Marlow,

Thank you for being the home of Brand Fruition‘s new offices.

I know that you’re not really a proper brand, so you shouldn’t actually feature on this blog, but as you’ve got so much going for you I thought I’d make an exception.

Thanks for being the sort of town that has lots of wrought-iron olde-world sign fittings – we’re really proud ours:

Thanks for being “on” the river Thames and for having a cool suspension bridge:


Thanks for having more coffee shops, sandwicherias, pubs and restaurants than you can shake a mochaccino at…plus heaps of great shops: the staples (Boots through to WHSmith) and a whole load of  last minute Christmas-shopping type emporia (ranging from Cath Kidston  through to The White Company and Steamer Trading, not to mention Space.NK which I don’t really know much about other than it represents a fast track to serious brownie points).

Thanks for being the home of various literary types over the years. With Mary Shelley, T.S. Elliot and Jerome K. Jerome (my favorite author’s name of all time) as former residents, it feels like we’re in esteemed company.

And finally thanks for having a West Street – which is where our offices are – but no North, East or South Street – it’s very pleasingly un-Manhattan. Without West Street, there wouldn’t be 11 West Street, and without 11 West Street, there wouldn’t be our lovely new boardroom table and chairs and we wouldn’t be able to invite clients to come and have workshops “at our place”.

So thanks Marlow. May you treat us well.


(Telephone: 01628 485 216 / Postal address: 11 West Street, Marlow, SL7 2LS)

Dear Mars

Dear Mars,

Thank you for your latest interpretation of your famous and exceedingly powerful Work, Rest & Play brand asset / code. IMHO (is it really acceptable to type that?), you’ve got it bang on for the world we live in today:

There’s lots of things that you’ve done here that I think deserve some thanks:

1) You have (finally) made sense of the connection with Football – like McDonald’s you’ve realised it’s via the “grassroots”.

Sure, the Believe bars / posters around the time of major footy tournaments are a clever idea (and demonstrate the power of brand iconography, colourways, font etc), but when combined with the Pleasure you can’t measure strapline, it all seemed just a little bit too “laddy”… A bit too Euro 96, geared towards the (rapidly disappearing) FHM, Loaded, Maxim et al mindset:

I got the principle (toplicality, versatility etc) and understand why you did it, but I’m afraid that in this iteration, you looked a bit like Gazza’s version of The Economist – to me at least.

2) You’ve shown that you’re (rightfully) proud of your past / what made you famous, but you’ve respectfully chosen to take things in a new direction. Just as with that 80s ad that I dug up when I was thanking Kronenbourg (click here to be amazed), the line between whether these are actual ads or comedy sketches is fairly fuzzy:

3) Having been brave and gone back to one of your core brand assets / codes (i.e. Work, Rest & Play), and thankfully ditching the aforementioned too clever for it’s own good Pleasure you can’t measure idea, you’re to be admired for sticking to your guns and working harder to make Work, Rest & Play work hard for you. OK you tried to make Pleasure you can’t measure work for a broad target, but it didn’t really come off, and whilst hip-hopping Italian monks make for a good ad, they don’t make for a very campaignable idea:

4) I thank you for showing us that you can – and indeed should – create a piece of brand activation from an existing brand asset. That it’s much more sensible to make more of what you’ve got than it is to going desperately chasing after whatever seems to be “on trend” at the time – something Barclays clearly didn’t think about when it created this monstrosity:

Dross. Of the highest order.Well done Mars for not falling into the same trap as Barclays.

5) And finally, thanks for helping the residents of Carperby Yorkshire and their local team and for inadvertently (I suspect) doing your bit for The Big Society,. OK, The Big Society probably is just cover for spending cuts and is unlikely to take off in the way David Cameron hopes / needs, but wouldn’t it be great if it actually got some momentum and worked?

At any rate “Another Mars project kicks off” sounds like an idea that could run and run and run…but I guess you’ll be paying for your projects, which helps…

Thanks Mars